By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The original BMW X3 "Sport Activity Vehicle" debuted in 2003, and was one of the pioneers of the luxury small crossover craze, influencing brands like Acura, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to follow in their footsteps. But the years took their toll on the X3. Although it continued to improve year after year, without a full redesign, it began to look a little less fresh compared to the competition's newer crop of vehicles. Here's the good news: That all changes with the 2011 BMW X3. It sports a fresh look, a sporty - but not overly harsh ride, and a host of new luxury and convenience features.
If the 3 Series Sedan is a favorite but you'd like something with a hatch, an easier load-in height, and just a hint of ruggednesss, the X3 is worth a look.
Front and rear legroom are not one of the 2011 BMW X3's strongest suits. And, although the last generation X3 offered a manual transmission, this compact crossover only now comes in automatic transmission flavor, potentially upsetting diehard manual fans.
The 2011 BMW X3 offers more of everything: It's larger, more refined inside and out, comes with more standard equipment, more power underhood...and, in xDrive28i form, starts for less than the previous generation.
Driving Impressions The X3, more so in this second-generation, is truly a taller 3 Series Sedan. And we mean that in a very positive way. With a sporty (but less harsh than...the first generation) ride, great steering feel and the same 2.8-liter and twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6s found in the 3 Series Sedan, this crossover is sure to please the enthusiast in your soul. The manual transmission has been dropped for this generation, but the eight-speed automatic is no slouch, and offers paddle shifters along with Sport and Sport plus driving modes (which also adjust the chassis and throttle/steering responses) for those looking for a little more sportiness in their life.
Driving Dynamics Control
This optional system allows you to modify shock absorber firmness, engine throttle response, transmission shifting characteristics, power steering feel and stability/traction controls to suit your tastes. Choose normal, sport or sport plus to change how the X3 feels based on the road or your mood.
Available as an option, this system projects navigation directions and the speed the vehicle traveling onto the windshield, providing the driver with essential information without taking their eyes off the road.
Inside the 2011 BMW X3, you'll find tasteful wood trim, intuitive audio and climate controls, and comfortable, supportive seats. You'll also notice the standard iDrive and 8.8-inch information screens, an electronic parking brake as well as the same futuristic-looking automatic transmission shifter (you'll know what we mean when you see it) that's been introduced across the lineup. Although the 2011 BMW X3 sports larger dimensions, front and rear legroom isn't exactly generous.Exterior
Although the 2011 BMW X3 still shares the same wedge shape as the previous generation, this new incarnation sports a much more muscular, rounded look. The headlights and fog lights have been pulled to the sides of the vehicle, the kidney-shaped grille is more robust -looking, and the wheel arches are aggressively flared. To borrow a word from the German product presentations we so often see, the X3 design is an exercise in "dynamism." We couldn't agree more.
Mechanically, the X3 xDrive28i comes with a 3.0-liter in-line six engine mated to an automatic eight-speed transmission and puts power to pavement via a standard all-wheel drive system and 17-inch wheels. Inside, you'll find eight-way power front seats, silver matte trim, leatherette seating surfaces, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, HD Radio and the latest and greatest version of iDrive - which is much easier to use than previous iterations. The xDrive 35i ups the ante with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line six, xenon adaptive headlights, chrome tailpipes, 18-inch wheels and Siena interior wood trim.
You can equip your X3 with niceties like heated seats, a navigation system, premium audio, leather seating and a panoramic moonroof, but perhaps the coolest option is to custom-order your car and watch it being built via a video from BMW. Opting to custom order makes other perks available including interior and exterior color choices not available on dealer's lots and the opportunity to fly to the BMW factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and take possession of your shiny new car. If you're feeling ambitious you can also can put your new car through its paces on both a race track and an off-road course across the street from the factory at the Performance Drive Center.
The 2011 BMW X3 offers two engines: a 3.0-liter in-line six that produces 240 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six that nets 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode; Sadly, the manual transmission offered in the previous generation is not an option for this new iteration. BMW's third-generation intelligent all-wheel drive is standard across the lineup.
3.0-liter in-line 6
240 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
221 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2600-3000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1200-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
By Bill W. on Monday, March 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned this car for just over 1 month. I purchased the 35i Engine and M Sport Package, with the very interesting Carbon Black paint color and love it. This car is very fast with smooth acceleration and handling. The Technology Package is excellent and find the Heads up Display to be worth the extra $$. The extras on this car are a big expense so if you can find a corporate vehicle that's sold by the dealer with low miles as Elite Pre-Owned then that's certainly the way to go!!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Sol on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "How the car handles itself at high speeds"
Cons: "Noisy at high speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been driving this car for the last 3 months and I still get excited about it. I had an acura 2002 before that and this was a big step up for me. But what i am getting from this car far exceeds my expectations and I do not think I will ever drive any other brand going forward. This car's performance lives up to the Bimmer's hype."
11 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Gary L on Sunday, January 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, Build Quality, Features, Gas Mileage"
Cons: "Options Are Pricey... Choose Only What You Need"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is a huge step up from the GM, Ford, Cadillac and Subaru's that are the majority of SUV sales. The level of quality, performance and driving pleasure is outstanding. This is my first BMW so there was a learning curve with the I Drive, Navigation and other unique BMW features. Love the 12 speaker stereo, heated front seats with 3 settings, dual climate control, key-less start and full Navigation. This baby handles like a true sports car with acceleration & brakes putting it in a class of it's own. Great gas mileage and rock solid reliability earn it 5 stars. While pricey it comes with a solid 4 year warranty which includes all maintenance and free inspection. Beat that Lexus."
19 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By Bring on the snow on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Feels like a swiss vault when it shuts"
Cons: "Need better noise dampener at high speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Rock solid vehicle. It has amazing power and acceleration thanks to the silky smooth eight speed transmission. The car feels solid and stable around curvy rounds even going 90 mph, something I would never have done in my other vehicle and though I do not recommend this for others. However, I was very impressed how this vehicle navigated those sweepy curves. I also drove this vehicle on an interstate during a snow storm with the standard all season tires that came with it. It handled like a well trained athlete. I was the only car driving through the snow in the left lane. I am not sure that the vehicle was better than others but it certainly game me confidence that the vehicle could deal with the snow. I also love the look of the vehicle's exterior and interior. The aesthetics is understated elegance, not over the top. It does not call attention to itself other than through the blue and white Rondell. The discreet aesthetic is another reason why I like the BMW. If I could got rid of the Rondell or the indentifiers that announce that it is a BMW, I would love it even more because I drive this car not for its status but because of how solidly it drives and perform. The 48mos/50K miles warranty also comes in handy because repairing this Ultimate Driving Machine can be costly. I love this vehicle more than I enjoyed my 2007 328i."
26 people out of 36 found this review helpful
By Jovelle on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,650overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, good looking car"
Cons: "GPS need upgrade, cup holders"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This was assembled in Germany/Austria and was shipped to me as a gift from my husband. I love the Flamenco color, so far I've only seen 2 of these in N. California. I Love the moon roof, you can open it halfway or all the way. This is a really good car for me but maintenance is quite expensive.The GPS,I did an upgrade but not quite impressed for a BMW car. Car has parking assist, steering wheel can be tilted,has fog lights,intermittent wipers and more. Car paint is still in very good condition, car has been garaged most of the time. I just drive it to and from work."
4 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Harvest on Tuesday, December 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving as Life is too short. Control knob"
Cons: "Rough riding."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Fun driving. Quality exterior and interior. Zips easily around town and drives great on the freeway. Has leased it for over a year with no problems. Master Control knob next to the gear shift is the ultimate in convenience and safety. Many other vehicle's controls are on the dash, having to push the glass screen, making it more difficult to control the radio, navigation etc. Comparing the exterior design of other luxury and mid-level SUV models, the X3 is far superior. The only downside is the ride which is not as smooth and not as quiet as other models which I would prefer. Secondly, having discussed BMW's with mechanics and other previous BMW owners, the major issue and concern is the future reliability and repair expense as the vehicle passes it's free 4 year BMW maintenance period. Just about all recommend not owning a BMW because it will be in the shop frequently at very high expense. As a result, I plan on buying either a Toyota Highlander or Lexus RX for reliability and smoothness and quietness of ride. The prices with all the options are within the same price range. Or being spoiled by it's drivability and control knob, I will lease a new X3 or X5 for the rest of my driving life...but never buying one."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful